#115: Podcasting Legal Issues

Jun 20, 2021 | Marketing / Automation

In today’s episode, we cover legal issues and what you need to know. (Full disclaimer, I am neither a legal expert nor offering legal advice – so please do your own due diligence.)

We go over what kind of podcast music can you use and questions to ask yourself when it comes to ownership rights, trademarks, and agreements.

Welcome to Systems Sunday, this month’s theme is Podcasting Pre-Launch. I am Lisa Wells, your Virtual Assistant Trainer.

In today’s episode, we cover legal issues and what you need to know. Full disclaimer, I am neither a legal expert nor offering legal advice. Please do your own due diligence.

Jumping right in with using music in your podcast. Just like using images in your content, there is a lot of misinformation out there. When I started my business in 2005, I heard from many people who thought “if it’s on the internet, it’s public domain and free to use.” This is, of course, not true. So it’s important to pay attention to the original source of the audio so you can get permission to use the audio within your show.

What kind of podcast music can you use? There are 3 types and each is different:

Creative Commons music allows artists to share their compositions with the world for free. Although Creative Commons licenses come in all varieties, they usually let you use a piece of music without getting permission as long as you give credit to the artist.

Some Creative Commons licenses allow for commercial use, but not all do. Be sure to read terms of use carefully before using a specific song.

As the name suggests, royalty-free music means you don’t need to pay royalties to the artist every time you use it. Creative Commons music is royalty-free, but royalty-free music can also include any song you need to make a one-time payment for or have a subscription to use.

Royalty-free music typically includes a lifetime license, while others are active only as long as you have a subscription from the service you found the track.

Copyright on a song eventually expires, and when it does, the track enters the public domain where you can use it however you see fit. A lot of older music like classics and old children’s songs fall within the public domain.

You can also hire someone on Fiverr to compose an original for you.

Check with your podcast host to ensure that they have limited rights when it comes to your material–that is, make sure they cannot change or use your content without compensating you. Sometimes less-than-reputable hosts will slip some “interesting” clauses into their Terms & Conditions.

Think about freelance work and sponsored content as well to be sure that it’s clear who owns the work. Sponsored content is typically owned by the people who are sponsoring the content, but you should make sure you’re reading over the contract (you’ve got a contract, right?) from the sponsor carefully.

After you name your podcast, you may be wondering about trademarks. Here are some questions to determine if you need to apply for a trademark:

• Do I want to protect my intellectual property?
• Do I want to protect my branding elements, including my name?
• Do I want to accept the risk of someone else using this name and/or applying for a trademark before me?
• Did I do a trademark search before starting my podcast?
or is someone already using this name for their podcast or business?

A trademark can still offer protection, even if you have incorporated your business with the state. Registering with the state protects you from anyone using that name in the STATE but a trademark protects you internationally.

Trademarks can be sold as corporate assets.

It’s always smart to have your guests sign an agreement before coming on the show.

Vendor agreements are great when working without outside vendors such as musicians, editors, and other people who are making specific services for you. They’ll outline who owns what, and what you can do with the finished product.

Co-host agreements are a lot like prenups! It’s a good idea to make it clear in advance on who has the rights to do what–whether that’s deciding where the money goes when you’re wildly successful, or what would happen if you have a co-host breakup.

A good resource for legal agreements is Lisa Fraley, legal coach and attorney and The Contract Shop. I’ll include links in the area below

If you’d like even more resources, check out my Podcasting Template Pack. I have email templates, swipe files, best practices, printables, and more. Check it out in my shop.

Tune in for next week’s episode as we go through your Guest-Getting Game Plan. See you there!


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Podcasting Templates


Template pack includes:

  • Insider’s Guide with quick tips on types of podcasts, how to get started, and how to make the most of your podcast
  • Email Promotion Templates – use these templates to help you get started promoting your podcast. Templates include: Upcoming Guest Announcement, Live Tomorrow, Starting Soon, and Episode Recap.
  • Guest Invitation Email Templates – Use these templates to help you get started finding speakers/guests for your podcast.
  • Social Media Graphics – I’ve included square templates in PNG and PSD so you can easily edit and start advertising on social media for your podcast.
  • 20 Steps to Creating Your First Podcast – Use this list to keep you on track while planning your podcast. Some steps include: Choosing a Platform, Determining a Genre, and Brainstorm a name.
  • 35 Ways to Incorporate a Podcast into Your Business – Some ways include: Build Authority, Network with Others, Interview Team Members
  • Book a Guest Worksheet – Use this worksheet to ensure you are booking a guest that naturally fit your goals, needs, and promotional plan.
  • Choosing Your Topic, Voice,  and Message – This questionnaire is designed to help choose podcast topics that will enhance and grow your business.
  •  Guest Bio Template – Several fill-in-the-blank bio templates to use for your guest speakers.
  • Guest Bio Worksheet – Having a complete and compelling bio for guest speakers is necessary if you want to attract a lot of listeners. Use this worksheet to create a working bio for your guest.
  • Guest Tracking Spreadsheet – Use this spreadsheet to keep track of invitations, acceptance, and after-show for your guests.
  • Podcast Best Practices – This list of podcast best practices will help ensure you have done what you can to make your podcast the best show possible.
  • Podcast Equipment Checklist – Recording a podcast is easy and doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment. You may already have much of what is needed. I include a list of equipment that will help make your podcast as professional as possible.
  • Podcast Planning Calendar Template – Use this template to plan your upcoming podcast episodes. Start planning at least 4 weeks in advance to allow time for any mishaps or interruptions.
  • Podcast Topic Brainstorming & EngagementDesigned to help you identify and choose the best topics suited to your niche and your listeners. It will also walk you through some ways to increase listener engagement.
  • Podcast Tracking Spreadsheet  – Use this spreadsheet to keep track of certain parts of your podcast such as purpose, audience, frequency, and social media posts.

As you can see, the podcasting templates included in this bundle will help you stay on track planning your new podcast or supercharge your existing one.


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